Paul was writing to his friend, who was once like a son to him. When they first met, Paul had invited Timothy to join him and Silas as they were heading out on Paul's second trip. At that time, Timothy was not being invited as a fellow worker but more as a personal assistant. To put it frankly, Timothy was being invited to prepare meals and do the laundry. However, on their journey. Paul discipled Timothy, teaching and training him so that Timothy would come into his calling. But,as Paul wrote this letter, Timothy was no longer this young man.
Timothy was now a full partner in ministry, having responsibility to oversee the work of the Church in the area of Ephesus. Timothy would have been a well respected leader, closely tied to Paul's significant work in the Asia-Minor area.
It was also a very trying time for Paul. He had been imprisoned in Rome for a number of years. Although it was a house arrest and he could have visitors, it was far from the freedom Paul had enjoyed before. It was from this imprisonment that Paul would receive news and would send out letters to correct and encourage the Church. He had several men who he trusted and sent out with his letters and to minister to specific areas of the Church.
Paul seems to have had some insight as to what was going to happen to him in the next little while and he was trying to get everything in order before his departure. His letter to the Ephesians was like a departing parent to a child and his letter to Timothy had that same sense. Along with this, Paul was aware that many leaders were distancing themselves from him and even the gospel of grace was under fire. Could you imagine working so hard for the Kingdom only to see everything coming undone with no ability to stop it, knowing time was running out? But Paul knew that God measures success in a different manner.
Knowing all this, how Paul begins his letter to his close friend, takes on a special significance:
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, in keeping with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 1:1)
Paul was not just any man or any leader, he was an apostle of Jesus. Not representing just anyone but representing the instrument of all creation, the Son of God. Paul walked in humility in this role but he also operated in the authority that was given to him. It is as if he was stating, "I still know who I belong to".
We also see here that Paul was assured that his calling and purpose was by the will of God, not Paul's choice. There is something assuring in this fact. Do you understand that when you speak, it is in Jesus' authority. When you act, it is in Jesus' authority. When you stand against the storm it is in Jesus' authority. It is sad that more of us do not understand our reality and often allow things in life to become more and Jesus' authority to become less.
Paul also recognized that there are greater things for us than what this life has to offer. Paul made it clear that Jesus was his promise for everything. If he lost his home it was nothing to him compared to knowing Jesus. If he lost his life in service to Jesus, it was nothing to him because to die is gain in Jesus. The only thing that really mattered to Paul was the responsibility that Jesus had given to him, and we will see more of that as we get into this letter.
Paul was as human as you and me, changed by the same blood of Jesus, having received a calling just as we have. Perhaps our labour is a bit different but the source remains the same. I wonder if we have the same insight for our calling. I wonder if we could lose everything and still press on with our call. I wonder.